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Theatre Review: Fresh Meat 8 Opening Weekend

By Livia Belcea on October 12, 2019

Stripped

Caitlin Oleson: Playwright, Producer, Actor
Kevin Reid: Director, Co-Creator
Letycia Henrique: Actor, Co-Creator
Elspeth: Dancer, Co-Creator

Stripped approaches and examines the objectification of women and sex work through different lenses by the bias of two characters: a doctor and engineer who wishes to eradicate the mistreatment of women, by building an AI robot on which men can conduct their sexual fantasies—therefore removing the need for women to be hyper-sexualised and engage in sexual acts… The other, the CEO of a feminist organization, by empowering, supporting and helping women as they continue to express themselves and navigate their sexuality and make their own choices.

The dialogue is dense and the feminist narrative is rich and relevant to our society’s feminist conversation but the exchanges between the two characters reminded me more of a debate rather than a play. I didn’t feel like a storyline was moving forward, which could present a problem in extending this performance to a full production. Elspeth dazzled the audience with a sensual, athletic and impressive performance on the pole, in addition to her acting role on stage.

Stripped does a good job at presenting the challenges that modern feminism faces in breaking down gender stereotypes while giving women the space, platform and freedom to be themselves and choose their own paths.

Runs: 20 minutes


Little Orphan Annie

Devised & Performed by Kyle Cameron
Costuming by Patrice-Ann Forbes

Little Orphan Annie is a story about coming out, redemption and growing up gay in a place that doesn’t quite feel like home. The rough-around-the-edges look of our protagonist suggests that the character has still some growth left to do, but it also suggests that the play itself is a work in progress.

Kyle Cameron is captivating, particularly in storytelling, but loses the connection with his audience as he weaves the narrative together. The lip-syncing and dancing interludes tie into the storyline well and the old school element to the chosen songs are fun, but there are too many of them crammed during the short duration of the performance. Nonetheless, the character of Annie is robust and her growth is conveyed well.

Runs: 20 minutes


Freda and Me

Written & Performed by Wardie Leppan
Direction & Dramaturgy by Pierre Brault

Wardie Leppan is an educated, privileged white man from an affluent family from Johannesburg, South Africa who came to Ottawa in 1974 as a refugee after speaking out against the South African government and risking imprisonment. He is intelligent, warm, and very funny. He brings a unique perspective of integrating into Canada as an African refugee but who also happens to perfectly exemplify what a white Canadian should look like.

Wardie’s story takes place in the 60s and 70s on a different continent, but the audience can relate to it as our own society continues to grapple with issues of immigration, refugees and white privilege. Despite this, one of the play’s driving narratives, the one of Freda, the woman who cared for him as child and who remained at his family home in Africa, doesn’t take as much room as she could. We understand that Wardie has a significant personal connection to Freda, but she doesn’t feature prominently in the story, as the title of the play suggests. I wish he told us a little more about her and presented her as the main character in his play, rather than as the symbol to his African roots.

Runs: 20 minutes


No More Mr. Rice Guy

Created by Caterina Fiorindi, Alli Harris, Franco Pang
Performed by Franco Pang

Franco Pang absolutely shines in this hilarious story about a young, Asian, well-mannered and studious aspiring rapper who dreams of making it big. From the use of audio-visual aids to lighting and staging to the performance itself, No More Mr. Rice Guy is a well written, solid piece that has all the ingredients to become a full-length standalone play. This piece is abundant with puns, pop-culture references and diligent and respectful uses of Asian culture stereotypes. It had the audience laughing and smiling all along. I hope to see a full production soon.

Runs: 20 minutes


The Wounded Joker

Written & Performed by Janna Klostermann

Janna Klostermann shares her journey of recovery from open-heart surgery through humour, storytelling and anecdotes from her physical rehabilitation sessions. The performance is energetic, and the anecdotes are delivered with humour, despite the challenging nature of talking about one’s health, fragile body and mortality.

Although she only has 20 minutes to tell what was undoubtably one of the most frightful and stressful times in her life, Janna offers a structured story with plenty of punch lines, fun use of stage props, self-reflective monologues and even patient advocacy. Although she tells a very personal story, Janna is committed to her performance so well and delivers the content with such optimism that The Wounded Joker straddles the line between personal account and fiction.

Runs: 20 minutes


Visit freshmeatfest.com for the full lineup and schedule. Fresh Meat 8 runs for two weekends from October 10–19 at Arts Court Studio (2 Daly Ave). Doors open at 7pm and shows start at 7:30pm. Tickets cost $20 online and at the door. Thursday nights are pay-what-you-can.